Excellent news from Nordland Publishing! A few days ago, I received a message from a blog reader regretting not to be able to order Compass Head directly from her own island-continent, Australia. I relayed the message to my publishers in Norway, who, not only were concerned, but have now made for amends. And they did more.
Now, this geopoetics in action and in full motion. That peerie yoal has already travelled far and wide. Let it reach YOU.
“Row, row your boat” as the tune says…
From now on, dear reader, you can now reach out to Compass Head DIRECTLY from practically WORLDWIDE, including Australia, China, India, Brazil, as well as other amazing places on Earth! So jump on the boat and, fair wind, sailors, and join in all those who have already enjoyed the ADVENTUROUS journey from The Songs from the North 🙂 Just CLICK ON the LINKs!
Category Archives: vikings
October belonged to Norway in autumn gold
Never have I dared to think to see the magic of West Norwegian fjords in such crystalline light during autumn… According to my Norskie friends, this happens only “every thirty years”. One of them even called me a hildigris (lucky devil) when the tenth month of the year remains (with November) the wettest month according to statstics… I had to alter the content of my backpack before I flew.
Magic names, warm welcomes and koselig slices of life awaited my eyes and heart. The term koselig, too often translated in English as “cosy”, does not feel adequate enough. It is deeper than this. It transcends into much deeper meaning that notably includes “warmth of the heart”. If you want to make friends with Norwegians, the simple phrase of gratitude for a shared time and their hospitality – Tusen takk. Det var kjempe koselig – could help you a great deal in that way.
Back to magic names that have animated my heart for quite a while now.
Hordaland,Bjørnefjorden, Hardangerfjorden, Kvinnherad, Fanafjorden, Bergen, Bryggen i Bergen, Sognefjorden, Måløy… Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjordane…
To the nomad that I am at heart, my sense of home turns into a linguistic triptych – hame, heim, home – that takes all its dimension. I have long learnt that home is not necessarily a place, but a feeling. Hame on my side of the North Sea, heim on the West Norwegian side, and home whenever I find my way back to the Scottish Highlands.Three places where I feel happy and safe.
Amusing, amazing, as the tongue adapts itself to such feeling. On my initial voyage, time felt far too brief, even as an appetiser. And yet, it fed my appetite for this facet of Scandinavian culture that seems to be fashioned by the ruggedness of both sea, land and climate. Only now am I beginning to appreciate the Norskie way. And I love it.
Six years ago, when Anita O. led me on board M/S NYBAKK, was I exposed to a brand new world. Nynorsk spoken – the “Viking tongue” as Per Kåre chants with such pride – the official language from Vestlandet (the Norwegian Westside that comprises Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogne og Fjordane) and although Stavanger is still uncharted in my life journey, the other two districts now taste like honey in my heart.
AND what a journey it has been!
From Flesland to the shore of Hardangerfjorden, via the E39 and a ferry… Magic ride in by ethereal autumnal blue. As majestic as last June!
October, the hunting season. As a result, red deer is mostly visible after twilight, as they come to feed on roadsides… Some also seek asylum in private gardens or meadows. This was notably the case when I arrived back in my first fjord. Since R has an orchard, they come not only to find sanctuary, but to crunch through fallen fruits…
The poet returned to the slate table at R’s secret place to enjoy once again the magic of the farm in Hardangerfjorden.
There, my first host offered me the space I needed to sharpen a little more the forester’s way of life at her place. I sat under one of her birch trees and watched leaves fall in a warm breeze, woodpeckers and jays off the old pear tree, blackbirds feed off fallen apples and listen to the tawny owl after dusk. On my arrival, I was welcomed by a white-tailed sea eagle flying over head. an encounter with a red squirrel animated further my pen. Veldig koselig!
And in between, Bergen, the gateway to the fjords.
To the islander and maritimer that I am, a harbour is above all the heart of it all. Last June, I walked it with Aneta, this time, solo. And reconvened with Vågen, Bryggen i Bergen, the very labyrinth of wood and salt that links Bergen to my island from Hanseatic times. The story of the fish, barrels, sailors and gold that could be made. A whole day in the great city to explore a little more. I stepped back in now more familiar gater (streets) and explored the rich culture Bergen offers. I lost myself inside several museums, incuding The Hanseatiskmuseet” and Kode. Whilst the former allowed me to peep into the local wealth woven by the trade of fish, the latter made me discover Norway’s Greats in fine art. Astrup, Dahl and Munch to name but a few. Bergen deserves so much more than a day or two! Friday night life proved both delightful and colourful in many ways, especially in fine company.
Back to the peninsula for a slice of delight,
I first photographed Oseana in June, and now in October. The Arts’ hub, coupled up with Restaurant and cinema really mirrors my one in Gutters’ Gaet… There, we walked from the heights of Os to reach water level, and enjoy a Saturday treat, a delicious prawn sandwich from heaven! R really relishes it :-).
The stroll down and back keeps you fit, and lunch there is worth all its kroner! Very homely place too.
Fanafjorden, the other one south of Bergen
And there, I stayed with my second hosts, Anita and François. They too said to come back, and I would feel “heime”. I did! And we shared so many delectable slices of life.
And what a magical place! Privileged to share their home, before they move to their next one in
Måløy… Vågsøy. Anita’s home town!
To that effect, François offered me the ride to their new home. The ride north of 60N. Epic journey through tunnels and fantastic scenery that included Astrup’s country, Jølster, on the way. Unforgettable. Mesmerising.
Hello, hei, Sogn og Fjordane!
Mighty Sognefjorden and amazing land and water scapes awaited us in sheer splendour. Really unforgettable. We reached our destination in early evening and stayed overnight at Anita’s parents, Ingrid and Magne. Third fabulous koselig welcome. Accentuated by Ingrid S Nybakk and Tanya Myhre with whom I reconvened since their last trip to Lerwick! We left before dawn the following morning to drive back to Fana. Tusen takk, venner!
EPIC initial exploration of Anita’s county, and now I know my next visit will have to include a return to her homeground as well as the Bergen peninsula and fjords.
And if I did not meet everyone from the Nybakk clan on this occasion, there will be time for a reunion soon. Meantime, I was lucky enough to reconvene by Anne Mabel and Arve Nybakk in Bergen for a day. Another precious unforgettable moment..
Hmmm. So much happened in October. So much love felt on this side of the North Sea. There is now poetics unfolding, brand new pages to be written, as well as a collection of verse to fashion.It has begun last June. It is now flourishing.
Histoire d’amour, love story. Last June I flew to Hordaland to be by their side. In nine days’ time I shall return and reconvene with this other side of the sea. I remember François speaking of belonging to the clan. I know I do, and cannot wait to step out of the plane in Bergen. Somehow it begins to feel like a Viking’s homecoming, hamefarin.
Dear Anita and François, it is on its way to you, and should arrive a day before me. :=)
Always a peculiar feeling when you taste something different.
Hordaland, Bergen, Bryggen, Straume, Krokeide, Fana, Os. This other side of the North Sea, the western fringe of Norway, along my very 60N latitude, I longed to see, feel, taste with my own heart, turned reality at the start of summer.
All this for the wedding of friends. That leap eastwards for an extended weekend flung new doors wide open. A leap that proved more than a mere one. To reconvene with Anita and François felt such a joy, as much as with Catherine and Iris in Bergen for the celebration, unimaginable, only years ago! We, da peerie Shetland contingent, were made so much welcome by our respective hosts. Magic! I had promised Any a beer in Bergen. We crossed the sea together, I would fulfil my promise; and we did just that. Whereas time vanished like lit gun powder, we made the most of it.
Saturday was Anita and François’ Day, and we had fun! Wonderful, multi-lingual ceremony followed by a great party. Though I was conscious this too would be swallowed by time…
To stop the clock when we are connected in the moment is every man’s dream.
How I too wish to hold our planet still for a while… That race against time cannot be won. I left my friends at the barn in Fana to be reunited with another kindred spirit I had not hugged for a good four years. Precious time.
She, like Annbjørg in Straume, offered me her home as a base. Norwegian hospitality feels as warm as on my side of the North Sea. We yarned very late, slept very little, but shared such a precious slice of life.
Sunday inside her fjord, farm and world. I wished for sea eagles, and Ragni gave me so much more.
Magic Sunday found inside blue, the majesty of Heime, the local équivalent of “hame” (home), starting point of a second collection of poetry now in motion.
So much I have found in such a short time spent on the other side of the sea. So fruitful, inspirational, now I know there is a home on either side of the North Sea.
Poetry is flowing, and, for the very first time, in Norwegian too.
It feels a brand new adventure in the making. My heart now beats on both sides.
Happy Constitution Day, Norway!
A month today, I will discover you for the first time, reconvene with some of my Norskie friends and take a bite for the first time 🙂
I cannot wait to cross the sea, fly along that 60N Latitude eastward and see your mountains shooting off water in the sky 🙂
Today, am clad in your colours. My D-Day countdown has begun 🙂
The island remains a honeypot for all kinds of visitors – sometimes I let my imagination loose at sea, and imagine lighthouse beams as magnets… Too irresistible to the intrepid one to ignore.
From the Norwegian, it translated as Dragon Harald the Fairhair, back at Alexandra Wharf for a first time in a couple of years – en route to NY via the old Viking routes. Draken Harald certainly caught our attention & hearts.
Statsraad Lehmkuhl had arrived and already moored at her usual place at Victoria Pier. I would catch her the following morning just off Bressay Light with my other notable visitor, Lancashire based Landscape Photographer, Peter Laurence who followed in the footsteps of Britain’s Landscape Photography master, Faye Godwin, who had immortalised the island in the 1980s…
And what a day it proved to be. Armed with our respective lenses, time turned irrelevant, for our wandering in between tall grass and muddy roadsides filled our eyes with smiles.
And pointed to the majesty of the southern edge of my homeworld.
With gracious thanks to Peter for a memorable day. Enjoy Compass Head inside each page. 🙂
Funny enough, I had tidied up my main writing table the night before, when I notably found the original paper manuscript, still inside its blue plastic binder, with each piece tightly typed and protected by a plastic pocket.
What a journey it has taken, from regular wandering in between writers’ groups right from the start… Ninian’s Café in Bigton, Bowlers’ Bar in Lerwick and various private houses in between Weisdale and West Burrafirth, before we (as the Westside Writers) settled at the Whiteness & Weisdale Hall. Until last December, it was confined within the delimited coastline of the Auld Rock.
And then the digital manuscript turned a galley, as it travelled East, across tides of our shared North Sea, to Norway. It slid across that much loved latitude of 60N.
You could think of the auld Viking trails and sea routes, amazing waterways as those borrowed by the Northmen… I love this concept.
So, if we follow such line of thought, we could mention a homecoming, or, as we call it here in Shetland, a hamefarin.
Welcome back home, Compass Head.